“When all of our idols are taken away, all our securities and defense mechanisms, we find out who we really are. We’re so little, so poor, so empty — sometimes, even so ugly.” Richard Rohr from The Great Themes of Scripture.
The friar is talking about what happened to the Hebrews once they departed Egypt unified and apparently strong in their quest for deliverance into freedom! The wilderness (the place where no one sees you spin to earn your spiritual legitimacy) only echos the sounds that we make, but no one else hears it. There is a sound there that constantly washes you in white-noise. It numbs until you hear nothing but your own heartbeat. You won’t notice it with only a short visit. A vacation, a day trip, a frolic only allows for you to see beauty of what you can only process in your shallowness. It takes years for the desert to do it’s work on you. For Israel, the number was close to 40. The temptation is to take yourself out of the heat and barrenness. Nothing creates a thirst for simple fruitfulness, like the endless cravings of barrenness. That is when we begin to see what is on the inside of “me”. The stripping has begun, the fig leaf has fallen and the real begins to creep out from behind all our grand illusions and empty projections.
This isn’t theory to me. It feels like a lifetime ago, but I’ve lived in the wilderness. It was necessary and I will be forever grateful for His process in my life. He knew the preparation that I needed for the next step of the journey. Sometimes being stripped in the desert feels like abandonment or divine neglect. It’s not. It’s on purpose. But, you’ll have to forge your mind against the devil’s attempt to bait you with self-pity and rescue. There are whispers from the throne that you’ll never hear until you can still your heart and mind in the solitude of wilderness. There is a promised land, but will you allow the desert to do its work so you can really see it?
This is not a broad stroke that applies to everyone. It could be, but not all are willing to risk this kind of helpless vulnerability. I know me and I would have never voluntarily enlisted. I was drafted for the desert. I could have never imagined the ways the He would reveal himself. There was some green in the cracks and moisture in the clay. He was there all along.
The following text is the material I read in my message at The Gathering on Monday, February 13th and Emmanuel Christian Fellowship on Sunday, February 5th. You should be able to download the message via podcast or the website. Hope it enriches your study! -MDP-
1 Timothy 3:16
By common confession, great is the mystery of godliness:
He who was revealed in the flesh,
Was vindicated in the Spirit,
Seen by angels,
Proclaimed among the nations,
Believed on in the world,
Taken up in glory.
ADDITIONAL NOTE ON 1 Timothy 3:16
Christ’s existence before his incarnation was purely spiritual (ἐν πνεύματι). He was in the form of God (Philippians 2:6): He was the effulgence of God’s glory and the express image of his substance (Hebrews 1:3), and God is spirit (John 4:24).
From this condition he came into manifestation in the flesh (ἐν σαρκί). He became man and entered into human conditions (Philippians 2:7, 8). Under these human conditions the attributes of his essential spiritual personality were veiled. He did not appear to men what he really was. He was not recognised by them as he who “was in the beginning with God” (John 1:1, 2); as “the image of the invisible God” (Colossians 1:15); as one with God (John 10:30; 14:9); as he who had all power in heaven and earth (Matthew 28:18); who was “before all things and by whom all things consist” (Colossians 1:17); who was “the king of the ages” (1 Timothy 1:17). On the contrary, he was regarded as an impostor, a usurper, and a blasphemer. He was hated, persecuted, and finally murdered. He was poor, tempted, and tried, a man of sorrows.
The justification or vindication of what he really was did not therefore come out of the fleshly sphere. He was not justified in the flesh. It came out of the sphere of his spiritual being. Glimpses of this pneumatic life (ἐν πνεύματι) flashed out during his life in the flesh. By his exalted and spotless character, by his works of love and power, by his words of authority, in his baptism and transfiguration, he was vindicated as being what he essentially was and what he openly claimed to be. These justifications were revelations, expressions, and witnesses of his original, essential spiritual and divine quality; of the native glory which he had with the Father before the world was. It was the Spirit that publicly indorsed him (John 1:32, 33): the words which he spake were spirit and life (John 6:63): he cast out demons in the Spirit of God (Matthew 12:28): his whole earthly manifestation was in demonstration of the Spirit. These various demonstrations decisively justified his claims in the eyes of many. His disciples confessed him as the Christ of God (Luke 9:20): some of the people said “this is the Christ” (John 7:41): others suspected that he was such (John 4:29). Whether or not men acknowledged his claims, they felt the power of his unique personality. They were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority (Matthew 7:28, 29).
Then followed the more decisive vindication in his resurrection from the dead. Here the work of the Spirit is distinctly recognized by Paul, (Romans 1:4). See also (Romans 8:11). In the period between his resurrection and ascension his pneumatic life came into clearer manifestation, and added to the vindication furnished in his life and resurrection. He seemed to live on the border-line between the natural and the spiritual world, and the powers of the spiritual world were continually crossing the line and revealing themselves in him.
In the apostolic preaching, the appeal to the vindication of Christ by the Spirit is clear and unequivocal. The spiritual nourishment of believers is “the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:19): the Holy Spirit is called “the Spirit of Christ” (Romans 8:9; Galatians 4:6): Paul identifies Christ personally with the Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:17); and in Romans 8:9, 10, “Spirit of God,” “Spirit of Christ,” and “Christ” are used as convertible terms. The indwelling of the Spirit of Christ is the test and vindication of belonging to Christ (Romans 8:9). Thus, though put to death in the flesh, in the Spirit Christ is vindicated as the Son of God, the Christ of God, the manifestation of God. WORD STUDIES IN THE NEW TESTAMENT by Marvin R. Vincent D. D., 1886.
Another entry for the project. -MDP-
“Like one who grabs a wild dog by the ears, so is the person passing by who becomes furious over a quarrel not his own.” Proverbs 26:17, NET
Golf courses and airports are good places to find out what is inside of a person. Mastery of both is next to impossible. As enjoyable as golf is to millions of people, it is also gives constant feedback that there is room for improvement and perfection is fleeting. I’ve seen the most gentle of personalities, go “apeshit” over the loss of a stroke because of a bad shot. Well, ok, maybe that was me, but you get the point. Managing one’s composure is a very significant part of the game. The pros have learned how to walk away from disaster and be “all there” for the next shot. Taming the head might be more important than grooving the swing.
Airports are also a hotbed of frustration because just getting to your gate in order to board a plane is a lot of work. Airline marketing tactics wax hard to present some assurance that flying is easy. That would be silly-talk right there! Delays and cancellations are a fairly common occurrence. It’s all about chain reactions. A bad weather day in Dallas can disrupt the entire nation’s travel patterns. Fog in Atlanta is causing heartburn in San Francisco. A blizzard in Minneapolis is ruining vacation plans to Jamaica. I suspect that there is lots of money to be made inside of airport drinking holes. People inside of airports are tightly wound with very short fuses.
Patti and I recently spent 26 hours in the DFW airport waiting to take a 25-minute flight to Waco. Delay after delay, cancellation after cancellation, we sat in amazement that we were so close, but yet so far. You have to stay chilled. Throughout various episodes of boarding and de-boarding, we watched the rising tide of frustration swell in various individuals. The desk agents are only the messengers, but you’d think that they had personally sabotaged the whole affair. Even though Granny is ready to bust open a can of whupass on someone because Sheba, her Dramamine induced Pomeranian is hyperventilating in it’s case, it doesn’t do anyone any good to take up her offense while she’s exploding on the gate agent. Granny will settle soon enough, but there is always someone around that is more than happy to incite their own passion to join the fray.
Wisdom suggests that this is not a good idea. Don’t think domesticated pet here. Think about the serious consequences of grabbing a wild dog (by the ears). Yep, you are going to get yourself bitten… maybe even mauled. Most conflict is due to unbridled passion and limited understanding. You’d best keep the cuckoo in the clock friend. The whole world is not plotting for your personal inconvenience.
In The Pages
Can you stay out of another person’s quarrel? When tension levels rise in public, how do you react? Can you keep quiet or do you have to vent?